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The Bright Side of the Reformation

line The Bright Side of the Reformation

Pause and Consider



‘The Bright Side of the Reformation’


On Oct 31, 2017, the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  This marks the date in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany.  This event that has impacted civilization since that day.

One of the promptings of the Reformation was the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in about 1440.  By 1500, presses were operating all over Europe.  People were learning to read, and the Scriptures were becoming available for lay people.  Once people understood what the Word of God actually said, the authority of the Church was undermined.

Various men began to translate the Bible into the languages of the people.  Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Luther produced Bibles which were in the mother tongues.  People could read the Word for themselves and the flames of the Reformation were fanned.

There were many reformers, but three deserve special mention.  The first is Martin Luther of Germany (Nov. 10, 1483 – Feb. 18, 1546).  Luther was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, and monk. He came to reject several teachings and practices of the Church.  Primarily he objected to the practice of indulgences—the belief that freedom from God’s punishment could be purchased with money.  Luther was eventually excommunicated by the Pope and condemned as an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor.

The second important reformer was Ulrich Zwingli of Switzerland (Jan. 1, 1484—Oct. 11, 1531).  1n 1519, Zwingli became a pastor in Zurich where he began to preach on the ideas of reform.  He particularly preached against the corruption of the Church hierarchy, and the use of images in places of worship.

The third Reformation figure was John Calvin of France (July 10, 1509—May 27, 1564), though much of his work took place in Geneva, Switzerland.  He broke from the Church around 1530. His theology has impacted many protestant denominations.

The Reformers formed their thoughts around three principal ideas which are known as the ‘Solas’ (from the Latin meaning ‘alone).  Each is a key belief which contrasts with the teachings of the Church.

The first is ‘Scripture alone.’ It asserts that the Bible must rule over church traditions and interpretations.  All church traditions, creeds and teachings must conform with the teachings of scripture as the divinely inspired Word of God.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good work. (1 Tim. 3:16, 17)

‘By grace alone’ and ‘through faith alone’ work together.  They exclude merit as part of achieving salvation.  And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. (Rom. 11:6) Salvation is an unearned gift from God by means of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

Justification is received by faith alone. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).  No good work that any man can do can please God enough to bring salvation.

Salvation is based on Scripture alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, and to God alone belongs the glory!  This is the most wonderful news in the world! How have you responded to it?

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